I WALKED INTO Savages with pretty tempered expectations. The movie opened nearly two weeks ago, and I’ll admit that the middling reviews it’s been receiving almost prevented me from seeing it. It’s not that the story of a weird California love/pot triangle seemed uninteresting or lacking in shock value. It was more the idea that a movie with such a ridiculous storyline could somehow manage to miss the entertainment value mark.
Savages has all of the elements of a truly entertaining film. Its lead actors, Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson, are two up and coming young actors with some solid acting chops. There are explosions, scenes of graphic torture, Salma Hayek in low-cut dresses, and some pretty decent dialogue for a movie where the protagonists spend a somewhat absurd amount of the film cracking lame marijuana puns. Benecio del Toro and John Travolta give great performances as a cartel enforcer and crooked DEA agent, respectively, and Blake Lively even manages to shed a bit of that Gossip Girl image of hers. Any other director would be able to take material like that and sculpt it into something worth paying money to go see. The problem is that Oliver Stone is not just any other director.
SO HAVE YOU HEARD that Frank Ocean is bisexual? Of course you have. A couple of weeks ago, everyone from your Great Aunt Gertrude to Beyonce was talking about the crooner’s unexpected revelation. How will the more conservative figures in the hip hop community respond to this? Did he just come out of the closet as a marketing tactic? Is he dating Anderson Cooper? Those, to name a few, were just a few of the thousands of questions being argued into the ground both online and off.
Just a few days later, though, all the debates and deliberations came to a screeching halt. Last Monday, Ocean changed the conversation by dropping yet another stunner: his jaw-dropping debut album, Channel Orange. It’s a career-making record, one that will elevate the New Orleans native from an underground favorite to a fully-fledged superstar.
NERDS EVERYWHERE, REJOICE! As expected, Bethesda Softworks has finally released a trailer for the much-anticipated expansion to their smash hit RPG Skyrim. Slated for release on the Xbox 360 this summer (with other platforms to follow), Dawnguard promises to open up the digital world of vampires to the Skyrim universe — which means thousands upon thousands of gamers (like me) are about shut themselves off from the real world to immerse themselves in it.
In a fictional land already littered with supernatural beings, an in-depth exploration of the vampire subculture was something lacking from the original game’s numerous storylines. Dawnguard will change all of that, offering up new locales, characters, abilities, and enemies that would wipe the floor with the glittering teenybopper lames from Twilight.
MAURICE SENDAK UNDERSTOOD. He understood that children are not the pure, delicate flowers they are so often made out to be, but wild, curious creatures, full of passion and imagination and mixed-up emotions. He understood that adolescence is just as—if not more—discordant and turbulent than any other stage of one’s life. He understood that growing up is a process that never truly ends.
That’s why his books are almost certainly among the first you remember reading. Sendak’s stories take us to dark, fantastical places—but they always feel familiar, as if those places were inside you all along. They were. And they always will be.
This week, hip hop loses a pioneer; A$AP Rocky takes on Paris; the latest Spidey flick looks less than amazing; President Obama shouts out Young Jeezy; Bethesda Softworks goes steampunk for its latest game; and a young man’s drinking prowess is not quite what it seems.